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A year ago, addiction brought tragedy to Griswold family

December 23, 2018

Griswold — Matthew Lindquist was consumed by addiction in the weeks leading up to Dec. 20, 2017.

The 21-year-old had smoked marijuana in the past, according to lifelong friend Mark Thibeault, but moved on to heroin after he graduated from Norwich Technical High School in 2015, got a job and moved out of the family home in the Kenwood Estates subdivision bordering Pachaug Pond.

Thibeault said Lindquist briefly lived a few miles away in Jewett City, the tiny, more densely populated borough within rural Griswold that is the epicenter of what town leaders have long acknowledged is a serious drug problem.

Court documents and interviews indicate that in the final days of his life, Lindquist, living back home and struggling with addiction, was doing business with a drug dealer from Hartford whose capacity for violence he failed to recognize until it was too late.

On Dec. 20, 2017, state police say Sergio Correa, a 26-year-old who had spent the past 10 years in prison for armed robberies and shootings, and Correa’s adopted 23-year-old sister, Ruth Correa, who boasted she liked to spike men’s drinks with “roofies” and rob them, drove to Griswold after Lindquist promised to let Sergio Correa steal his father’s guns.

Instead, state police say, the siblings fatally stabbed Lindquist and left his body in a wooded area up the street from the family home.

Then, detectives allege, the Correas went to the home at 70 Kenwood, tortured and killed Lindquist’s parents, Janet and Kenneth Lindquist, and set the home on fire. The state police allege the Correas stole guns, Lindquist’s car and cellphone, and other items, including gifts from under the Christmas tree.

Matthew Lindquist was missing after the fire, and state police named him early on as a person of interest as they investigated the parents’ deaths and the arson. His body was found in May, and state police documents revealed that he, too, was a victim of homicide.

Those who were close to the Lindquists are struggling to cope with the enormity of their losses on the one-year anniversary of the crimes, which coincides with memories of happier holiday seasons.

Matthew Lindquist’s older brother, Eric Lindquist, said he planned to take Dec. 20 off from work and spend the day with a close friend. He also plans to spend the upcoming holidays with friends.

Thibeault said he has tried to hold it together but the crimes “hit” him now and then. His parents still live directly across the street from the Lindquist property, where only the foundation of Ken Lindquist’s custom-built ranch house remains. 

“Everything was getting better but now it’s this time of year and it’s getting worse,” Thibeault said during an interview. “Every year, it will get a little bit better.”

Bob Thibeault, who was Ken Lindquist’s best friend, has to see the crime scene every day. He has resolved to “not let evil win” but admitted during a recent phone conversation that he was having a hard time leading up to the first anniversary.

Matthew Lindquist’s survivors say they hope the public understands that he was not himself when he guided the Correas to the neighborhood where he’d spent his childhood hiking, fishing, rebuilding cars and eating his mother’s delicious food.

“It’s pretty black and white,” Mark Thibeault said. “When you’re on this stuff, you aren’t the same person. And this is an example. An extreme example.”  

Matthew Lindquist, he said, had become a shell of himself.

His parents were trying to help Matthew, who earlier in 2017 had enrolled in an outpatient drug treatment program in Hartford and was prescribed the opioid replacement drug Suboxone. Mark Thibeault said it seemed to work, for a while.

Matthew Lindquist, a lover of the outdoors who had been spending a lot of time in his room, had started walking across the street again to help Mark Thibeault as he worked on his truck in the driveway of his parents’ home.

“I’d offer him a beer, and he would say no, he was on medication,” Mark Thibeault said.

No-show at work

Some time in the fall of 2017, Matthew Lindquist relapsed, which is common for those trying to shake an opioid addiction.

On Dec. 11, he lost his job at the Plainfield machine shop Pro Manufactured Products due to poor attendance, according to Mark Thibeault. His parents, who had bought him a Saturn Ion to use for work, took away the car keys.

A week later, Matthew Lindquist lost his dishwashing job at Uncle Kranky’s restaurant in Jewett City for the same reason. They liked him but he wasn’t showing up, according to a bartender there.

Text messages Matthew Lindquist exchanged with Sergio Correa between Dec. 10 and 19, 2017, show that the downtrodden and dope-sick young man from Griswold was willing to give Correa “everything that has some kind of value,” including his Suboxone pills and access to his father’s gun safe, in exchange for drugs and money. The texts are included in search warrants and arrest warrants obtained by the state police Eastern District Major Crime Squad.

Lindquist texted Sergio Correa that if Correa fronted him drugs and money, he would be his best customer. He said he was a “good honest dude” and would never burn someone like Correa.

Sergio Correa texted at 10:01 p.m. on Dec. 19 that he was on his way to Griswold. But he wouldn’t arrive for nearly three hours, and Matthew Lindquist’s phone records indicate he was increasingly agitated. At 11:20 p.m., after texting Correa three times to ask, “Where r u?” and trying to call him five times, Lindquist wrote, “It’s a pretty (expletive) up thing to make me sit here sick as hell waiting for nothing.”

Lindquist may have been alternately freezing and sweating, vomiting and having diarrhea if he was in withdrawal, according to Jack Malone, executive director of the Southeastern Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Opioid use alters the brain chemistry and bodily functions.

“Dope sick is what happens when your body is screaming for the drug,” Malone said. “It’s not just in your brain anymore. It’s in your body. It’s when they wake up in the morning and need heroin. They start to get dope sick, where every molecule in their body is screaming for the opiate. And that’s when they do horrible stuff.”

Malone has heard stories of people selling their mother’s engagement rings, pawning their parents’ television and stealing from their grandmothers to buy drugs.

“Their behavior is such that they’ve got to get dope to get away from the pain,” he said. “They’ll do anything to avoid being dope sick and will deal with the consequences later.”

There was no “later” for Matthew Lindquist.

Five hours of terror

On the evening of Dec. 19, 2017, Kenneth Lindquist called his oldest son to say that Matthew was having trouble with drugs again. He also texted his longtime friend and neighbor Bob Thibeault to say he could use a friend’s advice about Matthew. The two men arranged to have dinner the next night.

But by then, Matthew, Janet and Kenneth Lindquist were dead.

Matthew Lindquist’s final, fatal drug deal ended with his death sometime after 12:46 a.m., when the text messages indicate the Correas arrived at Kenwood Estates. Lindquist told Sergio Correa he would let him into the home where his parents were sleeping so that Correa could steal guns from a safe in the basement.

According to Ruth Correa, Matthew Lindquist was “panicky and fidgety” after meeting them on the street and driving them by the home. When they parked the car down the street and got out, Ruth Correa said Lindquist tried to run. She said her brother ran after him with a machete that he had in the car and hit Lindquist  in the back of the head.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Sergio Correa told Matthew Lindquist he couldn’t trust him because Lindquist “moved too much,” and he proceeded to use zip ties and duct tape to tie up Lindquist and gag him. When Lindquist started to “yell and scream,” Ruth Correa said her brother began to stab him with a knife, continuing even after Lindquist stopped moving and fell to the ground. She said Sergio gave her the knife and told her to “get him,” and that when she hesitated, “Sergio grabbed her hand and guided her and she stabbed the guy in the chest 10 times.”

From there, Ruth Correa said she and Sergio went to the family home. She said she was armed with a golf club to use against the family dog, Skylar. She described torturing and killing the parents. The crime spree lasted about five hours.

Sergio and Ruth Correa are incarcerated and awaiting trial on murder, home invasion and arson charges. 

Eric Lindquist said he is planning to have a memorial service for his brother sometime in the future.

Help is available for those struggling with addiction and their families. Some area resources include SCADD, which can be reached at (860) 886-2495 and Community Speaks Out, at (860) 823-8771 or (860) 908-3305.

k.florin@theday.com

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